Martina Niland, the womanbehind Once
If Martina Niland were not already known as the queen of low-budget Irish movies, her coronation would have come with the remarkable success that has been Once, which she produced. Once was voted best foreign film at the US Independent Spirit Awards last Saturday and won the Oscar for Best Original Song the next day.
From Westport, Co Mayo, Niland graduated with an honours degree in communications (film and broadcasting) from DIT Aungier St, Dublin, and within a year was hired by Samson Films. Her brief was to work on developing projects and to nurture new talent. Her first features as a producer were Karl Golden’s spiky romcom, The Honeymooners, and Perry Ogden’s Pavee Lackeen.
And then there was Once. Director John Carney gave Niland his script and showed her footage on his laptop of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová performing Falling Slowly.
Once was shot over 17 days in Dublin. “We hit the streets, just 12 of us, and with two small digi-cameras,” Niland told Reel News in Los Angeles this week. She worried when it was turned down by several major festivals, but a Sundance programmer saw it at the 2006 Galway Film Fleadh. Once took the audience award at Sundance, earned more than $9 million in the US and now has an Oscar.
“It‘s been phenomenal,” says Niland, who has many more projects in development. “I can’t think of another word for it.”
Niland: have Oscar, will travel